Review: MaddAdam

Douglas Adams warns against blowing up the Earth in chapter 1 because you’ll need it later.  This is good advice even if you’re writing an apocalyptic trilogy. MaddAdam is the last of Margaret Atwood’s apocalyptic trilogy that started in Oryx and Crake, and the trilogy had kind of run out of gas for me.

MaddAdam ties up loose ends from the earlier books, fills in some details of some characters pasts, and advances the post-apocalyptic plot.  The earlier episodes had more momentum and satirical bite.  One of the joys of those books was the fairly biting look at the modern society that Crake wanted to wash away.  Atwood would skillfully extrapolate that world from this with equal parts horror and humor that made for the best satire.  MaddAdam does not extend the satire much, and it is definitely missed.

The plot of MaddAdam fills in the gaps in a character’s history, but that history doesn’t add much to the world or the plot.  One of the strengths of After The Flood is that Atwood shows us the events of Oryx and Crake from a different conceptual part of the world.  The difference in the characters’ perspectives enrich the plot and add satirical targets.  MaddAdam’s flashbacks bring few new perspectives, though plot details get filled in.  I’m glad that Atwood knows these details that make her plot more sound and consistent, but I didn’t get very excited about learning the finer points.

Atwood is one of my favorite writers and technically the writing is spectacular.  Even though I was not very impressed by MaddAdam, it is full of beautiful phrases and brilliant literary constructions.

Overall, I recommend MaddAdam for completeists, but most readers won’t get much out of it that wasn’t in Oryx and Crake and After The Flood.

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